Al Gore accused of groping Portland massage therapist

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Yesterday, the National Enquirer rolled out a story that a Portland massage therapist had accused Al Gore of groping and fondling her over the course of a three-hour massage at the Hotel Lucia downtown on October 24, 2006. (He was in town that day to do his global warming presentation at the Rose Garden, an event I attended.)

The Enquirer, of course, is a supermarket tabloid renowned for over-the-top stories and unfounded allegations that go no further than their own headlines -- but they've also been dead right on numerous occasions. Recently, for example, the Enquirer broke the story about the affair between John Edwards and Rielle Hunter -- a story that was widely dismissed for months, until they were proven right.

In this case, the Portland Police and the Multnomah County DA confirm that they are aware of the Portland massage therapist's allegations, but ended their brief investigation when she refused to pursue her allegations and file charges.

Update: The Portland Tribune reports that they investigated the allegations in 2007 and 2008, and declined to publish the story. Also, there's an excellent rundown of the timeline and the specific allegations at Talking Points Memo.

On the jump, the official statements...

From the Portland Police:

A national tabloid magazine has published a story discussing allegations made by a Portland woman against former Vice President Al Gore. The Portland Police Bureau does not generally disclose information regarding sex crimes, as they are deemed confidential. However, because of the high-profile nature of this case and the fact that the woman involved provided reports to a media outlet, we will provide the following information:

In December 2006, a local attorney contacted the Portland Police Bureau and said he had a client that wanted to report an unwanted sexual contact by Mr. Gore. This allegation stemmed from an incident on October 24, 2006, when the woman involved, a Licensed Massage Therapist, was called to a local hotel to provide a massage to Mr. Gore.

After repeated attempts by Portland Police Detectives to interview the woman involved, the Police Bureau was told by her attorney in January 2007, that they were pursuing civil litigation and declined the assistance of the Portland Police Bureau’s Detective Division. A special report was written and the case was exceptionally cleared—a standard procedure when the person involved declines to talk to police. The District Attorney’s Office was consulted during this time.

On January 6, 2009, the woman involved came to the Detective Division and explained that she would like to give a statement. On January 8, 2009, a Detective and a victim advocate assigned to the Sexual Assault Detail met with the woman. The woman read from a prepared statement and detailed the events of October 24, 2006. She reported that she was repeatedly subjected to unwanted sexual touching while in his presence.

The woman reported that she still had clothes that she had worn during the encounter. But due to the description she gave of the incident, detectives did not collect the clothes as evidence because they did not feel there was any evidentiary value to the clothing.

After interviewing the woman, the Police Bureau provided additional services per the victim advocate program. The case was not investigated any further because detectives concluded there was insufficient evidence to support the allegations.

In June 2010, the woman involved contacted Detectives and asked for a copy of her statement, which she was given. She then asked if she could edit her statement and was told she could provide detectives with additional clarifications that would be added to her original report. She also advised that she was going to take the case to the media.

The District Attorney’s Office has a copy of the reports. At this point, the Police Bureau does not consider this an ongoing investigation unless new evidence is received in this case.

The Police Bureau is releasing the redacted reports concurrent with this news release. In 2007, the Police Bureau released the initial special report regarding the incident after it received a public records request by the Portland Tribune.

And the statement from the Multnomah County DA:

In late 2006 and January 2007 this office was briefed by the Portland Police Bureau on allegations that were brought to it by an attorney representing a woman who alleged unwanted sexual contact by Al Gore. We were told the woman was not willing to be interviewed by the Portland Police Bureau and did not want a criminal investigation to proceed.

About a year after this event, our office was aware that a public records request from the media regarding this matter had been granted by the Portland Police Bureau. Today our office was notified by the Portland Police Bureau that further investigation of this matter had been conducted by it in 2009 and we were provided with the reports from that further investigation.

If the complainant and the Portland Police Bureau wish to pursue the possibility of a criminal prosecution, additional investigation by the Bureau will be necessary and will be discussed with the Portland Police Bureau.

Hat tip to KATU for the statements.

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    This is exactly the kind of story BlueOregon is accused of never posting--like a few days ago with Carla's bit on Dudley. If you hadn't beaten me to it, I'd have posted this, too.

    Good job.

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      Jeff, I'll buy that claim when it involves a local political player who is actually relevant. Gore is tabloid material now, and posting it here doesn't really demonstrate anything.

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        Um, Paul, you're one of our contributors. If you think we're missing a story, then that's on you too. You can post whatever you want, anytime you want.

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          Kari, that's not the point of contention here. The claim was made that BO contributors are equal opportunity opposition researchers, exposing Democratic misdeeds as well as Republican.

          I think the evidence from the past two years belies that contention, and reposting a National Enquirer story on Gore is not much evidence on the other side of the ledger.

          Besides, I would not have posted this story OR the story about Dudley. I enjoy policy and political discussion and debate on Blue Oregon. For this sort of stuff, I can just watch the "if it bleeds it leads" on TV.

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            I enjoy policy and political discussion and debate on Blue Oregon.

            Yes, please!

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            I think I'll set aside the snarky badgering, and make a more substantive point.

            Paul, you're arguing that we've failed to expose Democratic misdeeds at the same rate as Republican misdeeds.

            I haven't done a comprehensive review of recent stuff, but back in August 2006, I posted an item with a rundown of recent events then. (Follow this link to see the actual links.)

            * Senator Gordon Smith accepts paid travel to Ireland from a lobbyist, against Senate ethics rules. * House Majority Leader Wayne Scott threatens Rep. Arnie Roblan over a budget vote. * Congressional candidate Jim Feldkamp doesn't give up Tom Delay's dirty money. * Rep. Billy Dalto pockets campaign cash. * Rep. Dan Doyle gets busted embezzling campaign money. * House Majority Leader Wayne Scott lies about cutting funding for state troopers. * Clackamas county commissioners Larry Sowa and Bill Kennemer violate Oregon's open meetings law. * Senator Gordon Smith lets an aide work on a bill regulating Viacom after accepting a job offer from Viacom. * House Majority Leader Wayne Scott helps out his buddies * Rep. Billy Dalto drains his office account to pay his mom $3500/month for a part-time job. * Sen. John Lim buys personal air travel on a government rate. * Speaker Karen Minnis pretends she doesn't know about the swiftboating of Rob Brading. * Senate Minority Leader Ted Ferrioli threatens lobbyists who support Democrats. * House Majority Leader Wayne Scott threatens lobbyists and a State Senator supporting a Democrat. * Congressional candidate Jim Feldkamp can't explain his $77,500 economic miracle. * Rep. Billy Dalto and friends go digging for dirt in state personnel files. * Rep. John Lim gets a government rate for personal travel.

            Now, "misdeeds" are in the eye of the beholder, but there's hardly been anything like that rundown of ethical garbage from the Democrats in the last two years, or four, or six.

            Final point: BlueOregon is not a newspaper of record. We don't attempt to cover every story. We don't have an assignment desk. From time to time, I encourage our contributors to write on a hot topic of the day, but they're welcome to write or not write as they see fit.

            I write about what interests me, and so does everyone else. If one of our contributors thinks we're missing a story, then they're welcome to write about it. We also have a guest column link -- where anyone can send us a submission.

            I honestly can't think of an alleged Democratic "misdeed" that didn't get coverage here that I think should have. From Sam Adams to John Edwards, we've been on it. I'm curious to know what story you (or anyone) thinks we missed.

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            Paul, we don't aspire to be a news source. We don't aspire to be balanced. We aspire to be a place where progressives discuss matters relevant to progressives--and beneficial to them. Nowhere would I contend this:

            "BO contributors are equal opportunity opposition researchers, exposing Democratic misdeeds as well as Republican."

            It's not our mission. You may not agree with this mission and you may wish for a site that was effectively a political junkie website without bias one way or another, and that's fine, but it's very far from why this site was started.

            I keep going back to the original ethical standards we hold: transparency and accuracy. When we lie or hide uncomfortable truths, call us out. But when we are partisan Dems, please, don't say we're failing our readers. Being partisan was the whole point of the site.

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    Oh, yes, a Nat. Enquirer story on BlueOregon. Very edifying. If it's true, what is the relevance to the political scene, since Al Gore is no longer active on the political scene?

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      Well, Bill, it's also on the front page of the Oregonian this morning.

      If we hadn't posted it, there would be howls of protest.

      It's here for your discussion.

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    Seems this woman was looking for a pay-day. I don't believe a word of it.

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    The claims this woman made are clearly fabricated. She claims that Al Gore "herded" her in to the bedroom where there was an iPod dock. He put on "Dear Mr. President" by P!nk, the woman says, and then became more violent. Only problem with that story?

    The song "Dear Mr. President" was released on December 21, 2006. This woman claims the assault took place on October 24, 2006. Oppps.

    But then again, since Al Gore invented the time machine as well as the internets. This is how he was able to get a song that wasn't even released yet onto his iPod to play while sexually assaulting a woman. Of course he first went back to plant the false birth announcement in Hawaiian newspapers that Barack Obama was born in Hawaii.

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      My bad. The single was part of the album "I'm not dead" which was released in March of 2006. So it doesn't disprove the claim as I originally thought. Though I still find it completely unbelievable and in no way substantiated.

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        Mitch (no relation):

        I liked Al's response to her question:

        "Just how long were you whacked out by the election."

        "Six and a half years, so far".

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    I have no idea if this story is true.

    But the out-of-hand dismissal as posted above indicates the paucity of too closely identifying with political celebrities just because they happen to belong to your party.

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      Yeah, because a woman who refuses to actually file charges two years after the fact because she wants to bring a civil case (which still has not appeared) and has tried to hawk her story to the National Enquirer for $1 million is so believable. And I wouldn't believe the same story if the charges were leveled at a celebrity level GOPer either.

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    This thing was on The Smoking Gun and has been kicking around Facebook for around a week or so.

    Equating Carla's targets of opportunity (all Republicans and all Democrats named Kurt Schrader)with Blue Oregon's general scope does a disservice to Blue Oregon.

    As for the woman in question, she's refused to file charges and has not brought a civil suit, at least so far.

    I find this story totally believable. Gore's got all kinds of cred for his work, but that doesn't imply that he's not a high handed, out of touch, entitlement junky. I recall the time he told his kid, standing at the limo door, that he'd better get his grades up if he didn't want to wind up like "one of these guys", referring to the members of his Secret Service detail.

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    Fine with me to post the story; Kari's right.

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    I respect Kari for posting this (and Jeff for just missing the chance to post it) even though I think this is basically a non-story.

    What I really appreciated, though, is reading the headline to the post:

    Al Gore accused of groping Portland massage therapist

    followed by

    Joe Biden is coming to Portland!

    Now that's what I call a rapid response.

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    Unfortunately, the rate with which politicians of both parties have been determined guilty of bad sexual behavior is so great that it is impossible to dismiss this out of hand. At the same time, there are elements of this story that make it hard to accept. She was there for 2 hours. If she felt endangered why did she try to pack her table? Why not just leave and ask someone to send it? Why make 3 appointments with the police and then cancel? Why claim a civil suit and then do a deal with the Enquirer years later? Yes they got John Edwards, but that doesn't cover the other 99% of the stories that they publish which have zero credibilty. Enquiriing minds want to know.

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    As a licensed massage therapist myself since 1983, I decided to read her statement to the police department that's posted on KATU now. It's over 50 pages long. To me, it has the ring of truth to it. Questions, still? Yes. Many. But I recommend that folks actually read that before commenting; it helps to explain why she did what she did. It's not a pretty picture, with a complex number of factors.

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    I don't know whether to believe this or not. I can easily believe a wealthy, well-connected man would pull something like that, because it happens all the time. Sadly, false accusations against public figures aren't completely unknown either. It's a he-said, she-said between two people that I don't personally know, and I have no way to determine either one's credibility.

    The sad thing is, there are a lot of people who will immediately jump to conclusions, either for political reasons (they like Gore and want to believe nothing bad, or hate him and will believe anything awful about him), or because they make snap judgments based on minimal information and their own assumptions. These bare allegations, without more, will permanently brand Gore as a rapist (or at least a wannabe rapist) in a lot of people's heads. Other people will automatically assume the woman is lying for money.

    I agree with Jack Roberts -- this is largely a non-story. Several years ago, one person made an uncorroborated report against a well-known former politician, and now a trash tabloid has picked it up. There really isn't much there at the moment.

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    I just wonder if there would have been the same hands off approach from Portland authorities if the accused were, say Hannity or Gingrich. Would BO have taken the same stance as well?

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